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No constitutional violations occurred when police entered home

February 20, 2014

A man’s federal and state constitutional rights were not violated when police officers entered his home without a warrant based on concerns an injured animal or person may be inside.

Police and animal control officers were called to Jonathan Carpenter’s home based on a report of four dogs fighting. When they arrived, they saw the dogs running in and out of the home through an open door. An officer captured three of the dogs and decided to enter the home to search for the fourth dog to make sure there were no other injured animals or people inside. What appeared to be blood was on the walls. No one responded when the officers announced their presence. While searching for the animal, officers found marijuana plants.

Carpenter arrived home while the police were there and was taken into custody. A search warrant was obtained based on what the officers saw in the home, and Carpenter was charged with various drug offenses.

Carpenter filed a motion to suppress, saying the search violated his Fourth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. The trial court denied his motion, which the appeals court affirmed. The judges found exigent circumstances allowed the officers to execute a warrantless search of the home.

“The trial court did not err when it denied Carpenter’s motion to suppress the evidence against him because the officers had reasonable suspicion to believe a violent crime might have occurred, properly executed a search of the premises for that purpose, and the search did not violate Carpenter’s Fourth Amendment rights,” Judge Melissa May wrote in Jonathan D. Carpenter v. State of Indiana, 02A05-1304-CR-207.

They also found no violation under the Indiana Constitution because the officers had reasonable suspicion there was an injured person inside the home.
 

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